How the Best Leaders Inspire Their Teams
It can be hard to fuel your team with inspiration. However, it is a vital part of ensuring that your team are motivated. Here is how the best leaders do it.
Interestingly enough, today, I had a review with a team. The general feedback was good, but one concern was repeated. And that topic was none other than purpose. People felt as though they were less motivated to do the task due to a lack of understanding of how it adds value.
Over the last ten years, we have been blessed with the concept of purpose in the business world. Thanks to the TED Talk by Simon Sinek, the idea has become popularised and is beginning to change business.
People now want to feel connected with the purpose of their work rather than just the output. This is great, and I agree that leaders must keep connecting people to the why of their tasks. However, people equate this great tool of purpose to inspiration.
The articles I read tell leaders that you can inspire people by letting them know the purpose of a task. Unfortunately, that is not the full story. If it were, people would be inspired to pick up any job as long as they understood why it exists.
It would make the job of inspiring people much easier, and leaders like you probably would not be reading this article. You would have perfected the art of leadership a long time ago.
Inspiration is harder to come across because it is the root of the search for a why. If we were not inspired initially, we would never even think about finding a purpose to do anything.
Inspiration leads to self-motivation. And self-motivation is something we all need to even think about pursuing anything. I hate to say it, but many live uninspired lives. They spend most of their days motivated by external factors outside of themselves. Instead of running towards something, they are being pushed towards it.
I have highlighted before that a leader’s primary role is not to motivate others. The ideal environment for any leader is to have a team that is self-motivated to carry out their task.
Yes, part of that is understanding the why behind the tasks. But another part of that is ensuring people remain inspired to stay self-motivated. So, here are two ways the best leaders build self-motivated teams.
Create an Environment for Curiosity
The best thing a leader can do to inspire their team is to allow them to explore. It can be hard to create these environments because adults lose much of their curiosity as they age.
However, curiosity is an essential part of our inspiration. It allows us to ask questions that lead to self-motivation to find our own answers. Unfortunately, many leaders do not create an environment best suited for this quality.
Instead, they create rigid plans that only allow for a small amount of flexibility. Now I understand it can be hard to find the balance. After all, leaders need to ensure that valuable work is getting done. However, it can also be the reason why your team are uninspired.
Creating this environment does not just mean adding fun colours to a meeting room or fun furniture. Although these can help collaboration and comfortability, curiosity is something deeper than this.
Thankfully, it does not need to be taught because we are all naturally curious. We become less curious when we believe we know enough. And this is the problem. However, it is a tricky problem to solve.
On one hand, leaders need to play to the strengths of their team’s competencies to ensure productivity. However, on the other, curiosity and inspiration may be compromised. So, how do the best leaders deal with this balance?
My answer is to highlight gaps in knowledge for the team regularly. As the leader, you set the vision, but you also set the route. In doing so, you must understand the environment you are operating in to get to your end goal.
A lot of the time, only the route is given to the team. That route is often straightforward and can be dealt with by your team’s experience. Good leaders let their team know the vision. In doing so, they show a purpose for what they are doing and let their team know their work is worthwhile.
But the best leaders communicate the environment too. They show where there are gaps in knowledge, where they are unsure and what things make no sense to them. They let their team know that both they and their team have an environment to scope out.
By being open about the unknown, people’s curiosity will be sparked again. After this, people will go searching and find pockets of inspiration that lead to ideas, self-motivation and purpose.
Keep Your Life Interesting
I think one thing leaders can do to keep their team inspired is to live inspiring lives. Do not be that leader who does nothing on the weekends and has no hobbies.
Your team are human first, then your colleagues second. To be human means to have a lived experience. Of course, we make our lived experiences, but some of us inspire others through them.
To live an inspiring life means to live a life of growth. Yes, we all need a break sometimes, and it is fine to have weekends where you do nothing to recharge. But those who live inspiring lives are those who are constantly seeking growth in all areas of life.
Here is a simple framework I would use for myself to ensure I am living an inspiring life. It is also a good way to tell if others around you are doing the same.
Grow in Knowledge
Ensure you do something that helps you grow in knowledge. That could be reading or connecting with others in your network to learn more about opportunities.
As you feed more knowledge into your life, you can share it with others.
Grow in Experience
Do not just live life without taking things with you. Your experiences help you find new knowledge that you can apply. Ensure that you pay close attention to your life and what you are learning every day.
As you grow in experience, you can share your experiences with others and become an interesting person to speak to. Not to mention, grow in wisdom as you learn from them.
Grow in Skill
Do not just do things that are related to your day job. Start thinking outside the box and learn new skills that are outside your comfort zone. That may be a new language, writing or a musical instrument.
As you grow in skill, people will be drawn to the lessons you have learned. You may even inspire someone to pick up a new skill.
As leaders, we do not want to be pushing our teams to the destination. Instead, we want to be showing them the way whilst they run to it. It is here we get a win-win situation.
To do this, we need to inspire the teams we are fortunate enough to lead. After reading this article, you may be asking yourself if you are an inspirational leader.
I have found the best way to know this is by looking at your own life. As I pointed out, we should not live uninspired lives if we seek to inspire others. So, as a takeaway thought, think:
“If I were someone else, would I be inspired by the life I am living right now?”
I am a Visionary and Writer who seeks to enrich society by challenging how we do business today to lead to a world of better leaders and opportunities tomorrow.